Remembering where we once were.
It was a sign of how bad times were at Belle Vue in the late nineties when Rovers entertained Farnborough Town for the first ever time in October ’98 and lost to the club who would finish bottom of the table at the end of the season.
Town took the lead as early as the seventh minute through Keith Rowlands and doubled their advantage 20 minutes later through Lloyd Wye. Colin Sutherland notched for Rovers in the dying embers, but Ian Snodin’s men were on a run that included seven defeats in 10 games.
Darren Robson’s goal separated the two sides at Cherrywood Road, to complete a league double for Boro in what was to be a season of misery for the Hampshire outfit.
Rovers were to return just three days later for the first leg of the Conference League Cup and took an advantage – courtesy of Dave Penney’s late strike – back to South Yorkshire.
Over 7,000 fans crammed in to Belle Vue – the highest attendance at the Bawtry Road ground for many a year – to see Rovers win their first piece of silverware in 30 years thanks to Sutherland and a much treasured Ian Duerden double.
Farnborough bounced back to the Conference after just two seasons in the Isthmian League and who should welcome them back but Doncaster Rovers.
Steve Wignall’s men headed south and got an opening day win courtesy of Tim O’Shea’s own goal after Steve Watson and Rovers’ Neil Campbell had seen red in front of just over 1,000.
O’Shea was to see red in the return at Belle Vue in December and Rovers looked to be heading for three points after Jamie Paterson broke the deadlock on 70 minutes, however Dean Green snatched an equaliser four minutes from time to leave the hosts envious and Wignall nervous over his future.
Boro finished just six points off Rovers that term and there wasn’t much to separate the sides during the 2002/03 season either.
Francis Tierney’s 63rd minute strike in August ’02 earned Rovers the win at Belle Vue, while a drab 0-0 on a Tuesday night did nothing for the imagination of the unfortunate 947 in attendance.
Rovers’ exploits at the end of that season against CHESTER CITY and DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE are well documented, however the decline and ultimate reformation of Farnborough is less so.
Farnborough Town were reformed in May 2007 after facing liquidation and expulsion from the Football Conference.
Farnborough FC were born and placed in to the Southern League Division 1 South & West or eighth level of English football – a league they won at the first attempt.
From there came a spell in the Southern Premier Division before eventual promotion to the Conference south, where they remain a consistent mid-table side and some 90+ places and 4 divisions adrift of Rovers.
*Rovers defender Tim Ryan powers a header goalwards on Monday 26th August 2002 at Belle Vue in the hosts’ 1-0 win over Farnborough Town in front of 3,436 spectators*